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PID vs Non PID Controller

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  • Nate
    Banned Former Member
    • Apr 2015
    • 3808
    • Quarantined

    PID vs Non PID Controller

    I’m looking at some different pellet grills and like usual when looking at spending money I tend to jump deep into the specs etc... and over analyze.

    I’m not talking about PID vs 3-4 setting dial.

    I found an interesting statement from one manufacturer that argues against PID controllers (they didn’t say they were bad and weren’t bashing them... just why they didn’t use them). Their argument is that while PID controllers are precise for temperature that it doesn’t equate to precision for optimal quantity and quality smoke. They go on to say that the “temp swing” on a standard digital controller produces more quality smoke.

    I can see some logic in this as it would appear the pellet dumps may be more exaggerated than a constant trickle. Also the swing in 10-20 degrees doesn’t really bother me as I try to keep my cookers in a 25 degree range when using my stick burner.

    Thoughts?

    Hoping for the much respected advice and input from the Pellet Queen CandySueQ !
  • CandySueQ
    KCBS President, and Moderator
    • Jul 2014
    • 1525
    • Pellet Fired Jambo, T1000 Woodmaster, FEC100, MAK 2 star, Yoder 640, Backwoods Pellet Chef, 14" & 22" WSM, 22" Weber Kettle, Stoven, Hot Box Grill, Hasty Bake Portable

    #2
    I've never understood the compulsion to have to have a steady temp! Your oven even has a temp swing range. I am focused on the temp of the meat, not the cooker. This was very well said, Nate

    Comment


    • Nate
      Nate commented
      Editing a comment
      So not a deal breaker for you or something you would give more weight to one way or another?
  • jgreen
    Charter Member
    • Oct 2014
    • 2722
    • Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
    • Cookers:
      Broil King XL
      Broil King Smoke
      Weber Kettle 26
      Grilla Pellet smoker
      Capital 40 natural gas
      Napoleon Pro 22 kettle

      Thermometer:
      Maverick 733
      Thermapen (ok..4 thermapens)
      Thermo works DOT (or two)
      Fireboard (probably my favourite)
      Thermworks Smoke (or two)

      Accessories:
      SnS (original, plus and XL)
      DnG pans, 6 or 7 of these
      Vortex
      Grillgrates
      and, maybe some other toys as well

    #3
    I have the Grilla pellet grill and that is also one of their comments. I have not used any other pellet grills to compare to, but at low temps I get pretty good smoke on the Grilla
    Last edited by jgreen; May 21, 2018, 08:52 AM.

    Comment


    • Nate
      Nate commented
      Editing a comment
      Do you have the Grilla or the Silverbac?

    • jgreen
      jgreen commented
      Editing a comment
      The Grilla.
  • OSB
    OSB
    Club Member
    • Apr 2018
    • 191
    • SacTown

    #4
    If I'm between 225 and 275 for smoking I can work with it. I think its mostly a head trip for many.

    Comment


    • Nate
      Nate commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree... I'm normally a 250-275 person and don't get too worked up if it isn't exactly one number the entire cook.... especially with sticks...
  • Troutman
    Club Member
    • Aug 2017
    • 7468
    • aka Troutman Taco - Hanging Free in Tejas

    • OUTDOOR COOKERS

      BBQ ACCESSORIES

      WOOD & PELLET PREFERENCES

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    #5
    Well I'm going to take the other road traveled. I want precision in my cooker. The best convection ovens for your home operate in a tight temperature range with lots of insulation to ensure even cooking of whatever it is you are trying to make. I've had cheap, track home ovens that had wild swings and I've had precision instruments that have given me much better results especially with long roasts.

    I see no reason why that doesn't translate into the bbq pellet cooker. There may be some logic to the additional smoke argument, although I challenge them to prove that. Having a cheaper controller and claiming more smoke sounds like a "smoke and mirrors" excuse. But let's say it's true. What are the results of the cook? We all spout the mantra that if your looking you aren't cooking. Why is that? It's about temperature swings in the cooking process. Even heat ensures even cooking. I didn't pay close to $400 for a Fireboard and a fan to achieve wild swings in temperature, just the opposite I get rock solid temps that give me that even cooking I'm looking for.

    I think swings in temperature flies in the face of all the logic I've been taught about even cooking and great results. I'll take a PID controller any day, even if it does mean a little less smoke.

    Comment


    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      My experience brewing beer is that precise temperature control - for mashing as well as fermenting - is the one of the key things to have under control if you want to make good beer, and be able to repeat the process. I think that same concept applies to any sort of cooking, including smoking.
  • Nate
    Banned Former Member
    • Apr 2015
    • 3808
    • Quarantined

    #6
    Troutman , good point... I'm not advocating one way or another I'm just trying to get folks' thoughts on the issue.

    Do you think the more delicate smoke profile of a pellet smoker be caused by this issue?

    Also have you seen the article on the free side about Myth Busting If You're Looking You're Not Cooking ?

    Like I said I don't disagree that there are advantages to consistent heat temps but I'm more concerned about that when baking pastries, bread, etc... than a pork butt.

    Comment

    • Troutman
      Club Member
      • Aug 2017
      • 7468
      • aka Troutman Taco - Hanging Free in Tejas

      • OUTDOOR COOKERS

        BBQ ACCESSORIES

        WOOD & PELLET PREFERENCES

        SOUS VIDE

        INDOOR COOKWARE


      #7
      Originally posted by Nate View Post
      Troutman , good point... I'm not advocating one way or another I'm just trying to get folks' thoughts on the issue.

      Do you think the more delicate smoke profile of a pellet smoker be caused by this issue?

      Also have you seen the article on the free side about Myth Busting If You're Looking You're Not Cooking ?

      Like I said I don't disagree that there are advantages to consistent heat temps but I'm more concerned about that when baking pastries, bread, etc... than a pork butt.
      To your first point delicate smoke profiles in a pellet grill have to do with the nature of how pellets are burned and at what temperature. At lower temps, say 200* and lower, the pellets are modulated so they tend to smolder more thus you get a decent amount of smoke, most call this the "smoke" setting on the controller. As temps rise, however, the auger now begins to turn faster to keep up with sustaining the temperature in the cooking chamber and less and less smoke is made. The pellets at even higher temps, like 300* and above are in an inferno well beyond the smoke stage of those pellets. I don't think, bottom line, that the type of controller has much of anything to do with that, but I could be wrong.

      To your second point I have read Meathead's article. He opens the lid of various cookers for a brief moment and observes that the meat continues to cook regardless. I just use that as a reference to point out that, at least in my experience others may disagree, the less the meat is disturbed in it's journey to being cooked, the faster and better the process is going to occur. Briskets and large pork butts are certainly a lot more forgiving to those temperature swings. Again commercial quality ovens are designed to cook fast and efficiently, otherwise they would use cheap residential models.

      I did what you are doing and read and observed a lot about pellet cookers before I bought mine. I'm still learning to be honest with you and certainly no expert on the subject. I would just advice that you buy the best electronics out there, it's not only a matter of the cooking process but also a maintenance matter as well.

      Comment


      • Nate
        Nate commented
        Editing a comment
        How do you like your Pellet Cooker? Those things look awesome but a little more than I’m looking at cost wise (at least right now)
    • Polarbear777
      Club Member
      • Sep 2016
      • 1790

      #8
      You’d have to do a side by side with the same cut of meat, process and optimized cookers running at their best low and slow temp. To do it right, one would be a Weber kettle and I’d add a stickburner and kbq. Let’s say 5 cookers. Anyone have this stuff and willing to do it?

      Sounds like marketing to me.

      Comment

      • RonB
        Club Member
        • Apr 2016
        • 13136
        • Near Richmond VA
        • Weber Performer Deluxe
          SNS
          Pizza insert
          Rotisserie
          Smokenator 1000
          Cookshack Smokette Elite
          2 Thermapens
          Chefalarm
          Dot
          lots of probes.
          CyberQ

        #9
        The bottom line is are you happy with what you cook. There are many ways to get there and none of them are wrong if the meat turns out the way you want it.

        OF course, my way is best.

        Comment

        • Polarbear777
          Club Member
          • Sep 2016
          • 1790

          #10
          Solaire still has in their marketing material/instructions for their IR grills that “the super high heat seals in the juices”. Marketing definitely doesn’t have to be true.

          Comment

          • dshaffes
            Charter Member
            • Jan 2015
            • 278
            • NJ

            #11
            I own a Traeger Pro 22 that does not use a PID and love it. The smoke that comes out of it smells so good throughout the whole cook. The temp range is pretty tight especially when I look at average temp over the whole cook (I've monitored a number of times using my Fireboard). But the #1 reason why I like it is because it produces excellent BBQ!

            Comment

            • Huskee
              Administrator
              • May 2014
              • 15322
              • central MI, USA
              • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

                Want a free bottle of whiskey? Check out my link to Flaviar.com, you join with it, we both get a $50 bottle free.

                Smokers / Grills
                • Yoder loaded Wichita offset smoker
                • PBC
                • Grilla Silverbac pellet grill
                • Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado (SnSK)
                • Dyna-Glo XL Premium dual chamber charcoal grill
                • Weber 22" Original Kettle Premium (copper)
                • Weber 26" Original Kettle Premium (black)
                • Weber Jumbo Joe Gold (18.5")
                • Weber Smokey Joe Silver (14.5")
                • Brinkmann cabinet charcoal smoker (repurposed)

                Thermometers
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                • Thermapen MkII, orange
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                • ThermoWorks fridge & freezer therms as well

                Accessories
                • Instant Pot 6qt
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                • Fav other beer: DAB, Sam Adams regular, Third Shift amber or Coors Batch 19, Stella Artois
                • Fav cheap beers: Pabst, High Life, Hamm's & Stroh's
                • Most favorite beer: The one in your fridge
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                About me
                Real name: Aaron
                Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

                Occupation:
                • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

              #12
              Is there an advantage to a "steady" temp, or is it in our minds? Heat is energy. As Candy et all have mentioned we cook the meat to a given temp. We need x amount of energy over x amount of time to get the meat to x temp.

              Temp swings simply apply more heat and less heat at intervals, and this averages to a total amount of energy applied, getting us to our goal. You drive 75mph on the freeway or 1/3 at 65mph, 1/3 at 75mph, 1/3 at 85mph, and it takes the same time. I'm no physicist, but personally I've done enough cooks that temp swings in my stickburner still taste better (to me) than my steadier charcoal cookers. And that's what matters, I assume to most of us, is the meat on the plate.

              I think anyone who's used a stick burner, even a charcoal machine, has less need for a steady temp. It's easy to crave it and seek it by any means if you're under the impression you need it. The fact is you don't. Is a steady 225 better/worse than a steady 250? No. What about a combo of the two? That would be a swing. As long as your high swing point doesn't get so high that you scorch sugary rubs.

              I am a firm believer smoke quality (and whiskey quality) matters most.

              Comment


              • Polarbear777
                Polarbear777 commented
                Editing a comment
                I think the implication earlier is the sales pitch is that temp swings are important for the smoke quality and that reason is why one is better than the other. But the smoke quality burning only sticks is likely better regardless so is it the swings or the sticks, or do the swings only matter to the sticks and not the pellets etc.

              • Huskee
                Huskee commented
                Editing a comment
                Polarbear777 I was trying to address 2 things- do whatever it takes for best smoke on a pellet cooker, (smoke = flavor or we woudln't smoke), and the fact that a temp swing shouldn't worry anyone, regardless of cooker.

              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                I think there is more than physics involved here, there is chemistry as well. Heat chemically changes the protein and the net result (take the Maillard reaction as an example) produces flavor. Applying heat in a controlled manner, I would argue, controls those chemical reactions, similar to the beer comment above by jfmorris. Regardless, my brain hurts now, think I'll go get a beer
            • CurlingDog
              Charter Member
              • Sep 2014
              • 548
              • Port Washington, WI
              • Traeger Jr Elite, Modern Home Products TJK gasser,Char-Broil 26" Round Charcoal Grill CBRMH-2600/S, Weber Smokey Joe, small portable POS charcoal grill, 13.25" GrillGrates, Thermopen, Maverick ET-732, Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer
                gorilla gloves, bear paws

              #13
              The repeatablility of a controlled cooker appeals to me. If i worked a pit every day of my life, i would easily have the swings in temp mastered and would have the experience to know instinctively what is too little and too much without use of a thermopen. But i haven't and i don't. I prize repeatabillity, and temp control though technological means appeals to me. Thats why god invented damper spinners on webers... control the fire, control the meat. control the meat, control repeatable quality. ymmv. just my $0.02

              Comment

              • Polarbear777
                Club Member
                • Sep 2016
                • 1790

                #14
                I’ve rigged my charcoal cookers to be rock steady. I don’t know if swings are important but the controller automatically compensates for weather and ambient changes without me having to do anything and it stretches my cook times on single loads of fuel by 20-50%, which lets me do unattended overnight cooks. And I get exactly repeatable cooks with the same recipe and technique.

                Pellet cooker would seem to have the same advantages, mainly trading ease of use with somewhat higher cost.


                Are cooker swings nothing to worry about because they are unimportant or do we need them because they are super important?

                To really know and to really measure smoke quality we’d need to do side by sides ( we could even set controllers to have different control bands), but our current quality measurement means are smell or taste with are highly varying and subjective.

                Comment

                • CaptainMike
                  Club Member
                  • Nov 2015
                  • 2541
                  • The Great State of Jefferson
                  • Weber Summit Charcoal Grill w/SnS and DnG (Spartacus)
                    Old school big'ol Traeger w/Pro controller (Big Tex)
                    2 W22's w/SnS, DnG (1 black, 1 copper) (Minions 1 and 2)
                    20+ y/o many times rebuilt Weber Genesis w/GrillGrates (Gas Passer)
                    20 x 30 Santa Maria grill (Maria, duh)
                    Bradley cabinet smoker (Pepper Gomez)
                    36" Blackstone griddle (The Black Beauty)
                    Fireboard
                    Thermoworks Smoke and Thermapen.

                  #15
                  Holy crap, have I been doing it wrong all of this time?!!! I don't even know (or care) what PID stands for. Dang, to look back on all of the what-I-thought-was-good-food that was produced by my little pellet pooper, only to find that it was somehow inferior because of..... wait....WTH are ya'll talking about?
                  Last edited by CaptainMike; May 22, 2018, 08:22 AM.

                  Comment

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